Birth Of Tragedy | Hill Farmstead Brewery

BA SCORE
97
world-class
1,208 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Birth Of TragedyBirth Of Tragedy
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
hillfarmstead.com

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Birth of Tragedy is the imperial and oak barrel-aged version of our annual winter porter, Twilight of the Idols. Brewed with locally roasted coffee and Vermont honey, we age this beer for a year in personally selected bourbon barrels from our favorite distilleries.

Added by s1ckboy on 11-20-2011

BEER STATS
Ratings:
1,208
Reviews:
189
Avg:
4.39
pDev:
8.66%
 
 
Wants:
1,057
Gots:
206
For Trade:
22
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,208 |  Reviews: 189
Photo of RKing44
3.75/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of angrybabboon
3.79/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Cheers to Bilco for acquiring this for both Goblinmunkey7 and me, cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this particular bottle

Appearance: Dark brown, pours with a light tan head, keeps a small cap, leaves some nice spots of lacing

Smell: Chocolate in abundance with a hint of bourbon - dark chocolate, cocoa, and milk chocolate - chocolate and caramel malts - roasty coffee in the aroma, but the honey is even more obvious - very sweet smelling, with milk chocolate and honey - bourbon rounds out the aroma - some dark fruits and vanilla as well

Taste: Big chocolate with some bourbon - almost like some kind of artisan chocolate bar - dark chocolate, fudge, cocoa, semisweet chocolate - sweet malts with a serious honey component - coffee and roasted malts, but these flavors are mostly overshadowed by the honey - bourbon flavor is quite potent without being overly woody, boozy, or intense - lots of malt sweetness with some vanilla

Mouthfeel: Somewhere between medium and full, smooth, nicely carbonated, finishes and clean

Overall: Birth of the Beetus

As one would expect, Hill Farmstead can make a great imperial porter. This has some remarkable chocolate notes, with some equally remarkable honey notes. The coffee is pretty nice, but overall it's a bit too sweet. This may improve substantially over time.

 1,318 characters

Photo of Bferber
3.8/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Flavors were balanced but very muted. Hardly any signs of the coffee, bourbon notes present but muted. Most pronounced influence was the honey. Honey really came through. Alcohol hidden and Mouthfeel was smooth but lacking in volume compared to typical HF. Overall solid but didn't live up to the hype for me.

 309 characters

Photo of spicelab
3.81/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

500mL bottle with props to MrKennedy. 2012 I think. Reviewed from notes.

Inconspicuous black with a small mocha head that animates nicely with agitation.

Nose has a quite delicate bourbon canvas supporting notes of fennel, liquorice, rich molasses, tar and some mild phenolics.

Similar but sweeter from the honey and appreciable vanilla barrel contingent. Choc-caramel slice, cola, maple syrup and dried figs.

Light to medium with restrained carbonation and slight booze warmth on the back end. Would barely have guessed this was 7% let alone 9%

This is really well crafted, but lacks a little punch and complexity for a large-ish BA stout/porter.

 652 characters

Photo of scottfrie
3.81/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into Block 15 snifter. Thank you for giving me this, Michael.

A: Well, there’s no head. I get a few bubbles, but even those quickly disappeared. The color is a deep dark woody/raisin brown.
S: The nose makes up for this beer’s meager looks. The coffee really shines through and mixed well with spicy scents of bourbon and oak. The coffee is fresh and roasted smelling unlike some stouts that smell like burnt coffee ground. I detect some sweet vanilla as well.
T: Follows the nose with rich notes of roasted coffee and dark roasted malts, vanilla and moderate bourbon. Flavors are smooth and syrupy. Finish is full of dark chocolate, and the aftertaste and a few notes of roasted coconut and caramel.
M: Flat as hell but the thick body helps it out. Man this is flat. The mouthfeel is very slick and greasy, so at least the beer isn’t watery.
O: This beer would kill if it had a few bubbles. Flavors were rich and well integrated. A roasted bal-aged porter all around. The flatness saddens me, and I knocked the score because of it. Thanks again, SneezyAchew.

 1,084 characters

Photo of Ahappyhiker2
3.82/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

Batch 1.

A- Dark brown/black in color. Thinner than expected, almost no carbonation present. The appearance is pretty cool though, there's a shade of red on the outside of the glass. The only other beer I remember having a similar effect was Hunahpu's.

S- Cinnamon, honey, a hint of coffee, molasses, smoke, some booze. Nice, complex aroma.

T- A lot of flavors come through in this one. Bitter dark chocolate, coffee, sweetness from the honey, smoke, cinnamon, coconut. It's very, very smooth. Aftertaste is espresso/coffee and roasty flavors. Not much barrel character.

M- Very flat, almost no carbonation.

O- This beer has lots of complex flavors in the taste and the nose, but it falls short because of how flat it is. Also, it has such a lack of barrel character. I was expecting more of a bourbon/vanilla taste and it just isn't there. Honestly I like Everett so much better than this. I've read that batch 1 blows away batch 2, so I'm not going to try to hunt down another bottle or vintage. The complexity is there, but it is a bit of a letdown in my book. I'm glad I got to try this, but I'd recommend going after other beers if this is a whale for you.

 1,166 characters

Photo of cpetrone84
3.84/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Batch 2 (flat batch). pour us jet black with no head even with a vigorous pour. The nose is very nice, rich chocolate cake with a strong bourbon note and lightly scorched barrel. Taste has all the chocolate cake, dry chocolate through the finish, faint bourbon much less than the nose, virtually no carb with a burnt finish and a medium silky body.

 348 characters

Photo of callmemickey
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Koopa

A: Dark black with a minimal brownish head. A few stray stands of lacing.

S: Bourbon, caramel, molasses, honey sweetness.

T: Like the nose there is a healthy dose of bourbon and sweet malts. Definitely some caramel, dark fruits, and a little smokey/roasty malts.

M: Medium-full bodied. Light carbonation. A tad too much residual sweetness in the finish.

O: An interesting effort, but a bit too ambitious.

 432 characters

Photo of Chico1985
3.86/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First choice at Stoutfest 2013, Armsby Abbey. ~10 oz. pour into a tulip glass.

Pour is black with a thin bubbly tan ring for a head, sticks around as such.

Smell is good - chocolate and bourbon forward, with roast and vanilla there as well. Not extremely potent, but definitely a nice scent.

Taste is a slight improvement, opens up more with warmth. Chocolate brownie, bourbon oak up front with light vanilla, roasted malts, toasty malts. Just a hint of spices here. Sweet and kinda boozy.

Carbonation is pretty low, feels a bit thin and boozy for 9%. Not bad, but could've used some more heftiness.

Good beer, nothing that blew me away though- felt a little disjointed. I actually wound up enjoying the base beer (Twilight of the Idols) more, the spices here were a little too smothered by bourbon and sweetness.

 819 characters

Photo of ac24
3.87/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Whatup14
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Photo of afksports
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nails the porter side, but the bourbon barrel is very weak. It's messy, the oak doesn't come through as strong as you'd hope, and the final product seems a little thin. Especially for an 11% beer.

Looks great though, and it smells on point. But ultimately it was a little disappointing. Especially when 2010 Olde Hickory Imperial Stout was opened on the same night and absolutely blew it out of the water.

Reviewed from notes, shared with alalvarez75 before Birth of Tragedy hit the hype machine!

 498 characters

Photo of Florida9
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

A: Bottle opened with the faintest hiss. Poured into a tulip. Forms a few big bubbles and the slightest hint of a head, but in reality this one just looks flat. No lacing. Very dark brown or black in color.

S: Well the smell is pleasant. Dark roasted malts, oak, vanilla, chocolate. Damn, smells like freshly baked brownies.

T: Didn't think it was possible, but the taste is even better. Sweet, chocolately brownies. Mild oak. Lots of vanilla. A touch of coffee. Some dark fruits, like plum and raisin, but the sweet chocolate flavor dominates.

M: Fucking flat. There's no carbonation here. And thats the problem. Slick, oily, and viscous with a chalky finish.

O: Apparently the carbonation isn't allowed to leave VT. This beer truly has the potential for greatness, but it should be properly carbonated. And it's not. There is nothing there leaving a sweet, chocolatey liquid to swirl around the mouth.

 911 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a snifter.

Birth of Tragedy pours a mahogany, nearly black color with a small tan mocha cap.

Lots of espresso, somewhat bitter and a bit creamy, dark bitter chocolate, sweet milk chocolate, roasted malt, and a bit of spicy hops in the nose.

The flavor is full of a ton of espresso, a bit of cream, dark, bitter chocolate, deeply roasted malt, and a bit of spice toward the finish. There is a sweetness to some of chocolate notes, but overall it is fairly bitter. There is not very much bourbon character coming through.

The mouthfeel is fairly full, there is a creamy carbonation. It is a bit acrid in its bitterness, with a dryness toward the end. Even without the bourbon flavor coming through, it feels like the dryness from the oak barrel came through fairly strongly.

It was fairly nice, but I really noticed the acrid nature of it, which detracted from the experience.

 927 characters

Photo of hillvt4me
3.92/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- darkest of brown and blend of black with tinge of red. Minimal head with little lacing.
S-toffee, coffee, waft of cherry bourbon; sweet/honey aroma throughout.
T-Sugar laced Coffee, the cinnamon is fairly present. Minimal bourbon on back.
M-Low end of a medium thickness.
O-solid brew, complex flavor, balanced; though a bit sweet for my preference.

 353 characters

Photo of Zack_B
3.94/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.95/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Josh for this one. 500ml bottle poured into a Founders snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours pitch black and viscous with no head. Very sparse, spotty lace and oily, thick legs. Average for the style.

Nose is booze, honey, molasses, roasted coffee, and fudge. Pretty subtle. Leaves me wanting a bit more here.

Opens sweet honey and molasses. Fudge, chocolate, and booze with some sweet prunes mixed in. Coffee presence is noticeably missing probably because of the age of this one. More booziness floats around at the end, complementing the robust honey, molasses and fudge flavors. Finishes sweet and bourbon-y. Aftertaste of sweet roasted malt, chocolate, and fudge. Tasty but a bit one-dimensional without the coffee.

Medium bodied and nearly flat. Viscous, slick, and oily in the mouth and warm and smooth going down. Messy finish with a long, lingering aftertaste. This might not be for everyone but I like my heavier beers a bit flat and this fits the bill for me.

Pretty sure this one is past its prime at this point. However, that doesn't mean its not good. Flavor is decidedly a bit one-dimensional but its still everything you could want from a barrel-aged porter. Warming and delicious. I'd love to revisit this fresh if its ever made again.

 1,269 characters

Photo of harrymel
3.95/5  rDev -10%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage

Dark brown, flat appearing beer. Smells decadent: vanilla, oak, nougat, more vanilla, bits of graham, some cocoa, a hint of dark fruits. A really nice nose. Flavor follows suite - really fine dark chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, oak, bits of minced licorice, some leather. The flavor is really nice also. Mouthfeel: this is where the beer falls apart. While full bodied with a silky feel, not even a swish through the teeth makes this bubbly, slightly wet. A real treat - with carbonation this would be hard to beat, honestly.

 537 characters

Photo of jbriggs7
3.96/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of chinchill
3.97/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hill Farmstead Birth of Tragedy - bottled Oct. 2013.

Opaque; near black with a modest, sudsy head that has good retention.

Overall nearly on par with FW Parabola consumed just beforehand. Compared to Parabola, this was sweeter, had less coffee, and was smoother.

O: Rich but easy to drink and very well balanced. Tastes and feels more aged than just 1 year.

 364 characters

Photo of Schlais
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of joel66
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of jamato3000
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of kingcrowing
4/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a hill farmstead tulip.

Pours a pitch black that's thick as oil. Nose is sweet, malty lots of vanilla and a bit of honey.

Taste is chocolate and roasty, sweet lots of oaky vanilla with a bit of a hot finish. Overall its really creamy and delicious. I don't quite taste it as an imperial twilight but its still very good.

 347 characters

Photo of sourdog
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Birth Of Tragedy from Hill Farmstead Brewery
4.39 out of 5 based on 1,208 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.